Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Read This And Reap

Calling It The Way She Sees It - And She Calls It Right

By David Miranda

I just finished reading Julie Roehm's article, Signs Its Time To Fire Your CMO, and I highly recommend that all marketers (and non-marketers) do the same.

What companies, large and small, need to understand is that great marketing is done by those who challenge the comfort zone of the status quo; those that market like insurgents rather than incumbents; those who understand that there is a significant difference between those wanting to succeed and those not being afraid to fail.

Julie refers to The Coca-Cola Company's former CMO, the legendary Sergio Zyman. He was and remains a marketing insurgent. Now a successful consultant and author, Sergio's nickname, during his tenures at Coke, by friends and foes alike, as the Ayacola for his brash, yet innovative marketing prowess. Take a read of his first book, "The End Of Marketing As We Know It". His mantra was and is that "marketing is about selling more stuff, to more people, more often to make more money." On his watch as CMO, The Coca-Cola Company generated record sales and profits. Coke has changed marketing executives several times since his departure, but has not been able to achieve the same level of success.

Perhaps the Board of The Coca-Cola Company (and others) should read Julie's article. Perhaps they could learn a thing or two.

Borrowing from Coke's old tag line - Julie's "the real thing".

Keep it real. Thanks, Julie!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bob Dylan - "The Times They Are A Changing" But It's Not Easy Going

Gandhi Didn't Expect Hugs And Kisses, Neither Should You

By David Miranda

To those of you that aspire to change the status quo, and you know who you are, don't be discouraged when you face the head wind of resistance. Nothing worthwhile comes without passion, sacrifice and perseverance. You have two choices in life - give in to the pressure of the status quo or fight for what you believe in. We just witnessed a remarkable political season where "change" was the mantra of both campaigns.

Too often, however, people relent. They say to themselves "what's the point?. I am just one person up against insurmountable odds. Why should I bother? Who really cares?"

To those that seek change but feel little support or encouragement from others, I say keep the faith and persist. No one said change was easy.

Gandhi once said, "First they ignore you; then they laugh at you; then they fight you; and then you win".

If you want to be an agent of change, ignore the ignoring, shun the laughter, fight the good fight and winning will be your redemption.

History has celebrated agents of change, the real visionaries- Abraham Lincoln, Mohatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Charles Lindbergh to name a few. All were the subjects of severe ridicule, and each rose above the criticism to forever change our lives. We just witnessed the election of a new member of this elite club - President-Elect Barack Obama. Whatever your political persuasion, it is clear we live in transformational times requiring transformational leadership.

The business lessons we can learn from these agents of change are simple - speak up, speak out, and speak with passion in the face of powerful dissent.

No one said change was easy, but it is inevitable.

Don't be a shrinking violet when change is required.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Customer Should Be The Boss

Our Org Charts Are All Wrong

By David Miranda

First let me share a recent personal experience to set the stage.

I am a long time customer of Home Depot. I am fairly ignorant in the home improvement area and the orange-aproned sales associates at Home Depot have been the friendly and helpful people to make sure I purchased the right tools and products for the right job. That is until recently. In recent trips to Home Depot, I have found the level of service (and friendliness) lacking. The other day I searched the aisles for someone to help me select window shades. Finally when I did find someone, this person said it was not his department, got on a walkie-talkie, and told me to wait in Aisle 18. After waiting for some time, a gentleman with a surly attitude arrived only to make it clear in his tone that he was doing me a favor since I must have interrupted whatever else he was doing. I left the store and went to ACE Hardware where, by the way, the people were obviously happy I was there, particularly after I told them about my Home Depot experience. This is the same Home Depot that compensated its former CEO Bob Nardelli with a $250 million exit package. (I still love Home Depot, but they need to get the train back on the right track.)

The people who pay for all of a company's overhead (and hefty executive compensation packages) are customers, yet they're not shown on any company's org chart. Go figure!

As a matter of fact, the org charts of companies are upside down. The customer should be at the top, followed by the front line employees, then management, then executives, then the board, then the shareholders. Everybody in the organzation reports to the customer. Makes perfect sense - and good business. A company can always find new board members, executives, management and employees and not miss a beat - but lose customers and the consequences are dire. Just ask the shareholders of GM, Ford, Dell, Gateway, The Gap, Home Depot and others whose once-strong customer base has eroded.

This customer erosion does not happen overnight. It happens over time like a small leak in a dam that eventually weakens the entire structure with catastrophic consequences much like my Home Depot experience.

Imagine now if these companies had understood the importance of turning their org charts upside down treating every customer as they would if your boss was at the counter, on the phone, or on the web site. Imagine the level of service your boss would be given.

When was the last time you received treatment from a company like you were the boss? Chances are rarely if ever?

It's high time marketers spoke up in the boardroom about the importance of the front line experience for customers because all the great marketing in the world will not solve this problem, but turning the org chart upside down with regard to who is really important will.

Flip that chart!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Marketers - "Still Crazy After All These Years"

Why Do We Continue To Do Nutty Things?

By David Miranda

In the 1990 comedy, "Crazy People", Dudley Moore played a Madison Avenue advertising executive who had a mental breakdown. Before he was committed he developed new "let's be honest with consumers" campaigns for a number of clients including Jaguar, United Airlines, Metamucil, and AT&T. I am not able to publish all of the hilarious ads in the film, but the one created for AT&T will give you a hint.

"You may think phone service stinks since deregulation, but don't mess with us, because we're all you've got. In fact, if we fold, you'll have no damn phones. AT&T - we're tired of taking your crap! "

Today, the craziness continues, albeit in different forms. Here are some examples.

Cingular is now "the new AT&T". I am still confused why the name change. Better service? Better deals? Different positioning? Different strategy? Nope. Looks like all that's changed is the logo. Crazy!

The Coca-Cola Company created Coke Zero that has zero calories. I thought Diet Coke was Coke with zero calories. Crazy!

The Ford Motor Company retired the Taurus model and created the Ford Five Hundred . The Five Hundred has had disappointing sales and Ford has now decided to rename it the Taurus. Crazy!

Major corporations continue to pay exhorbitant marketing fees for the naming rights to sports venues. Some examples include Philips Arena (Atlanta) $160 million, FedEx Field (Raljon, MD) $205 million, and American Airlines Center (Dallas) $195 million. Do these investments really pay off? That's a lot of electronics, overnight deliveries, and airline tickets to justify. Crazy!

The typical NASCAR car displays hundreds of sponsor logos, some the size of a business cards. With these cars doing laps at nearly 200 mph do race fans (the intended audience) in person or on TV really notice them? Crazy!

Craziness? I will leave the final determination to the Board Of Directors and shareholders of companies based on the return on these marketing investments.

Unless that is a crazy idea!